“This is the room where Jezebel frescoed her eyelids with history’s tragic glitter”
― Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
I have always been drawn to the art of belly-dancing. But for one reason or another, I never pursued it as a hobby, past time or art form. Perhaps I was overwhelmed by the idea of flitting around in skimpy attire for people (mainly men) to ogle. That didn’t stop me from attempting on my own the rhythmic gyrations in the comfort and seclusion of my living room. I firmly believe that I was born to dance and can clearly recall specifically asking for lessons when I was four years-old to which my mother replied, “your legs are too short.”
So when we were gifted the opportunity to have Star Hachem, owner and teacher of Shimmy Shack Bellydance Studio, come teach a class on the Sacred Art of Belly Dancing here at the Church of Holistic Science…I was in….I was SO in. And Star? Well…she did not disappoint.
Six of us gathered on a Sunday when the church, bookstore and spa were closed which essentially gave us the run of the place. We began in the steam room because the sauna was down for repairs. We turned off the lights and were consumed by the moist darkness. The only sound over the hiss of the steam was Star’s voice as she guided us back in time…to the void, to the womb, to our centers. We chanted and prayed and for half an hour and worked through our first two chakras: the Muladhara (the root), and the Swadhisthana (the sacrum). Previous to our entry, Star had given us a lesson on the sacred sweat lodge ceremony. She was very thorough and consistent in her retelling of the symbolism, the meanings behind the actions, directions, and the sounds employed during such a sacred service. She also informed us that this was her path and that there are many traditions that may or may not follow the same steps. I was engaged and ready.
After the sweat we came upstairs, ate some fruit, and talked freely about what had just happened. Something she said while we were all sitting Indian style on the blanket stuck with me. There was a lot of intensity in the sweat coming from us women. A lot of anger and remorse. Star commented on it and said, “We have so much anger towards men. We all have been victimized at one point in time and feel this welling up of resentment. We HAVE to work through that. If we don’t it will continue to tear apart the relationships we currently have with the men in our lives.” She nailed it. I have seen that very cycle come around and around again in my marriage. Resentment that originated decades before I met and married him, swelling up and causing me to make judgments, cast disparagements and project blame. It was time to for progress.
This was not a performance based class. We sat on the floor as she guided us through very small movements with our rib cages and obliques. We were taught the lines and directions for moving our upper bodies. All the while she gave us a history lesson on the origins of the movements and how our ancient mothers used them routinely in childbirth and even simple movements such as carrying water in clay jars. We then added movement with our arms and we rolled and curled the energy from one to another, perfecting the movements with her direction and guidance. I became aware of muscles never conscious of before. Towards the end of class, we got to our feet and began using our hips. She let us wear beautiful belly dancing scarves around our hips and we swirled and danced like gypsies. The hips were just a teaser of what we will learn next week.
You simply cannot put a price on the wisdom this beautiful creature shared with us that day. It was definitely worth much more than the $25.00 she charges. I am a devotee and can now proclaim that I am a student of belly dance.
Take that mom!